Campaign of the Month: February 2017
The Orisha god of the hunt
Oshosi is the dour and solitary god of the hunt and the deep forest, the tireless tracker who knows every plant and tree in the forest and whose arrows never go astray from their intended target. His effortless prowess on the hunt makes him the patron god of all who depend on the wilderness for their livelihoods, and even the other gods respect him as a provider and keeper of the secret wisdom of the forest. He accepts no excuses and abides no trickery or dishonor; Oshosi’s instinct for truth, like his arrows, never misses its mark.
Oshosi and Olodumare
Olodumare was impressed by Oshosi’s incredible hunting ability and asked him to become the official hunter of heaven; whenever Oshosi killed his prey in the forest, he sacrificed its blood so that it would feed the gods and took home only the bloodless body. At Olodumare’s request, he told no one of his role in order that humanity should not learn the secret of sustaining the gods. His wife Oshun, however, became curious as to why all the meat he brought home was always dry and bloodless, and pestered him constantly to tell her why it was so. Oshosi refused to divulge the secret, so the next time he went into the forest to hunt, Oshun followed him secretly to satisfy her curiosity. She saw him spill an antelope’s blood and learned what he was doing, but Olodumare spied her in the forest and told Oshosi that she had followed him. Furious at her presumption, Oshosi called upon Olodumare to curse her and all other women with menstruation, claiming that if she was so curious about blood she would see it all the time for the rest of her life.
Oshosi and Ogun
Long ago, Oshosi lived with his mother Yemanja, his brother Ogun and his uncle Eshu. Eshu was constantly playing tricks and disrespecting Yemanja, so much so that eventually she threw him out of the house to avoid having to deal with him anymore. Ogun and Oshosi took care of their mother by providing food from hunting and gathering, but Yemanja worried that Oshosi might be in danger because he never did anything but hunt and took greater and greater risks in his pursuit of prey. Upon consulting a diviner, she learned that Oshosi should not go out to hunt anymore or he would be in danger of being captured by Osanyin, the lame god of the wilderness; she tried to warn him, but Oshosi refused to give up the hunt. Shortly afterward, Osanyin did indees see Oshosi, and impressed by his abilities decided to keep him with him as a companion and provider, concocting a potion that stole his memories and identity. Oshosi was gone so long that his brother Ogun went into the forest to find him and bring him back, but Yemanja was so insulted that he had ignored her instructions that she refused to allow him to move back in. Upset by his mother’s callousness, Ogun returned to the forest with Oshosi, and none of them ever came back to Yemanja’s house again.
Oshosi and Yemanja
Olodumare one day decided that he required a pheasant to eat, so Oshosi set out into the bush to catch one for him. He found the most magnificent pheasant in the world and carefully trapped it so that he could present it to Olodumare alive; upon reaching home, he built a small cage for the bird outside his house and then went to tell Obatala to send a message to Olodumare that the bird was ready. While he was gone, his mother Yemanja happened to pass by and saw the delicious bird, and thinking that her son would not begrudge her one bird from his hunting trips, she took it home to cook it. When Oshosi returned, he was dismayed to discover that the bird had vanished. Furious at the theft, he shot an arrow into the air, declaring that it would seek out the thief and punish him for his theft; but after hearing a woman’s scream nearby, he was heartbroken to discover that his arrow had flown true and pierced his mother through the heart. Devastated by his action, Oshosi retreated to the forest and swore never to live with the other gods again.